Friday, March 16, 2012

Appreciating Gender Differences

Men and woman look at things
differently, experience humor differently. So, how can we appreciate gender
differences in humor? Is there any hope?
Furthermore, how can humor be an
opportunity to foster a greater understanding between the sexes? Are there
differences that we do not want to appreciate, differences that, in fact, may
be harmful to healthy relationships?
Humor can be a means to become
closer to people, a tool for creating healthy relationships. As a form of
communication, humor can be used constructively to build self-esteem or can be
used to undermine it. It can serve as the road to reconciliation and an
appreciation of the differences between men and women or it can provide
ammunition for the battle of the sexes.
Humor can be a bonding experience,
a sharing of experience, creating a sense of belonging, a sense of partnership.
As a form of self-presentation and expression of cleverness, humor can be a
valuable form of entertainment for the entertainer and the entertainee, a means for laughing, playing, and having fun
together. It also can serve as an expression of love, a building block in the
foundation for fun-loving, passionate, committed relationships.
In the words of the Russian
novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky: “If you wish to glimpse inside a human soul and
get to know someone, don’t bother analyzing their ways of being silent, of
talking, of weeping, or seeing how much they are moved by noble ideas; you’ll
get better results if you just watch them laugh. If they laugh well, they’re
good people” (adapted to inclusive language).
Actor Joanne Woodward has another
take on the importance of humor in relationships: “Sexiness wears thin after a
while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every
day, ah, now that’s a real treat.” Woodward has been married for forty-six
years to my favorite blue-eyed actor, social activist and entrepreneur, Paul

“While attending a marriage seminar
on communication, my husband and I listened to the instructor declare, ‘It is
essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each
other.’ He addressed the men. ‘Can you describe your wife’s goals, her dreams?
Do you know her favorite song, her favorite flower?’ My husband leaned over,
touched my arm tenderly and whispered, ‘Pillsbury All-Purpose, isn’t it?’”

1 comment:

  1. Thinking about this from the vantage point of my own experience, I don't really fell that men and women react differently to humor. It just seems to me that there are wide differences in personality that apply in pretty much the same way to either men or women. It's true men have historically been known for sexual humor, but most men leave that behind as they grow older, and you don't hear those kind of raucous jokes much anymore in either the workplace or in places where men hang out without women around. When I think of all the men in my immediate present experience -- brother, brothers-in-laws, close friends, associates at work, and so on -- I can't think of any of them who would make such jokes. The modern sensibility just doesn't allow it anymore or even regard such humor as funny anymore. I do at times joke in this way with my 21-year-old son, however; he sees sexual nuance in everything, and the joke, really, in his case, is in pretending to be a person who would tell such a joke. It has that extra layer of social awareness that my male friends didn't have at the same age.